Booster Review Delayed by CDC as Debate Swirls Over 3rd Shot
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pushed back by one week a meeting by a group of outside advisers who were set to review Covid booster shots as debate swells about the need for a third dose.
The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices, originally scheduled to meet and possibly make a recommendation about the need for boosters on Aug. 24, is now set to convene over two days starting Aug. 30. The delay was posted on the CDC website and confirmed by multiple committee members.
The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it plans to allow most fully vaccinated adults to get a third shot of vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. eight months after their second dose, starting Sept. 20.
Now, with a month until the proposed launch date, the Biden administration still needs the CDC’s recommendation and approval from the Food and Drug Administration to distribute boosters.
“The data are coming in rapidly, and we want to make sure we follow our process for review and to ensure we can have a robust deliberation at the next open meeting,” Grace Lee, chair of the committee, wrote in an email. She said she expects that meeting to happen “soon.”
Typically the FDA and CDC would give their thumbs-up before the White House would consider announcing such a plan, and the administration’s decision to push forward without such approval has raised concerns among public health officials. Before the ACIP meeting was delayed, committee member Camille Kotton said on Wednesday that the panel has been discussing the potential for boosters for months, and that the data are sufficient for the Biden administration to recommend them.
With such a tight deadline before the rollout is set to begin in late September, even a one-week delay adds more pressure on the White House to meet its ambitious goal.
The review comes as U.S. health officials are investigating emerging data suggesting that the Moderna vaccine may be associated with a higher risk of heart complications in younger adults than previously believed, according to a Washington Post report published Thursday. The article cited two unidentified people familiar with the review who emphasized that the side effect still probably remains uncommon.
Slides presented at an ACIP meeting in June showed Moderna’s vaccine was associated with a numerically higher rate of the side effect, but that the difference was not statistically significant.
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